Christianity

Religions, Cults & Worldviews: Valuable Answers for Valid Questions.

All of the denominations, listed on our denominations page and chart, emerged from a root form of Christianity. The earliest Christian church was established by Jesus Christ and richly developed by His disciples and especially the 12 Apostles and the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys.

The Name "Christianity"
Christianity was originally perceived by the Romans and the Greeks as a Jewish sect and its members were referred to as "Followers of The Way". A term which was based primarily on the Apostles' preaching of Jesus as "THE Way", a phrase that shows up as Jesus' own words in the Gospel of John 14:6 "I AM the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me."

In the book of Acts, the Bible reports that these "Followers" were called "Christians" for the first time in Antioch. It was a derisive term which meant "little Christs". The name given in derision was a perfect fit for what true Christianity represented: being a smaller version i.e. representative or imitator of Christ, so the name was a hit among Christians and it stuck.
From Jewish Sect to World Religion
Originally considered a “Jewish” Sect by nearly everyone (except Christians), Christianity grew in size, worldwide presence, and propogated a widely differing and independent doctrine from the Jewish faith of its roots.

Mostly due to declarations of disassociation proclaimed by Jewish leaders to the Roman authorities at the time, Rome would oblige the leaders of Judaism which it considered a legitimate religion and would remove all "legal protection" of these Christ-ians who had been allowed (for the most part) in the Roman empire under the banner of a "Jewish Sect" . Within less than a century, the fledgling Christian faith ceased to be considered a Jewish sect soon emerged as a world religion in its own right.
Definition of "Church"
For the most part, the church structure as it exists today:
  1. A dedicated building for the purpose of "church service"
  2. Centralised authority structure consisting of a seminary-trained leader and/or hierarchy
  3. All seats facing toward a stage with performing groups and speakers
  4. Rigid scheduling and service times (see below for a breakdown of what this looks like in a modern church service)
Owes itself mostly to the influence of Constantine who incorporated many practices of other pagan faiths within the Roman Empire into the Christian faith which he legalised in 313 AD with the Edict of Milan.
  • Prior to Constantine the church met in homes, was largely decentralised, and enjoyed small interactive groups with balanced prayer, reading of Scripture (various scrolls and not the Bible as it exists today) and the singing of hymns
  • Contrary to popular belief, Christians hold that the "true" church is not a building, nor does it necessarily pertain to a specific group of attendees, but is comprised of those who have been "baptised into Christ" by placing their faith in the forgiveness of sins by way of the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross.
What the Church Service has Become:
A modern-day Christian church service is usually a 1 hour service three times a week and consists of:
  • 5 minutes of chatting
  • 3 minutes of prayer
  • 3 minute song/hymn
  • 10 minutes of "church announcements"
  • 3 minute song/hymn
  • 5 minutes of Bible reading
  • 3 minute song/hymn
  • 21 minute sermons
  • 3 minute song/hymn
  • 3 minutes of prayer.
This is far removed from the original intention of church meetings where belivers met to encourage one another in the faith (impossible in the above format) and Christian leaders used meetings as an opportunity to "equip the Saints" and train us to "handle the Word of God accurately" so that we can "Give a reason for the hope that lies within us". This is impossible with a 3 minute Bible reading and a 21 minute sermon on "self improvement".
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Essential Beliefs of Christianity

From the writings of the Apostles, to the times of the various councils to this very day, there is an unbroken line of correct doctrine that can be demonstrated by the preserved writings of that day. Often times, cultists will claim that “precious truths” were removed by “wicked priests” or something along those lines.

However, when pressed to show any sort of evidence of a broken line of teaching or an exact (or approximate!) time period when the “wicked priests” carried out such a removal of these bizarre new beliefs, the Christian is met with deafening silence. There isn’t an answer from the cults because the historical and archaeological record supports the orthodox Christian belief that what was taught 2000 years ago and which is still being taught today. So with that being said, what exactly do authentic, historic, Biblically-based Christians believe? For the early centuries, there was a commonly-held set of beliefs pertaining to the following:

The Nature of God

Theologians would later refer to this as “Theology Proper”

There is One God

Isa 44:8; Deut 6:4; 1Tim 2:5 ‘One God, One Mediator...

  1. The Trinity: Isa 48:16; Math 28:19; 2Cor 13:14;
    • The exact word ‘Trinity’ is not in the bible, but the concept is clearly taught (c.f. the exact word ‘bible’ is not in the Bible but the concept is taught)
  2. Father as One Lord - Eph 4:5 (v4-church); I Cor 8:6; Father – Rom 1:7 Creator of all – Zec 12:1
  3. Son as One Lord Jn 11:32
  4. Spirit as One Lord 2Cor 3:17; 1Tim 6:15
    • Holy Spirit – 2Sam 23:2-3; Ps 95:7-11 w/ Heb 3:7-19 ; Isa 6:8-10 w/Acts 28:25-27
    • Cannot be “lied to”
    • Is referred to as “He” throughout bible

The person of Jesus Christ

Theologians would later refer to as "Christology"

  1. Deity of Jesus – Col 1:15, 2:9 ; Phil 2:6-8 ; Zec 12:10; Isa 9:6; Heb 1:6-8
  2. Virgin Birth – Isa 9:6 which is an essential doctrine for Jesus sinless birth, life and spotless sacrifice.
  3. Resurrection – Jesus was raised from the dead and this is the cornerstone of the Christian faith; “if Christ be not raised, you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17)
  4. I've recorded a series of podcasts which go into greater detail about the person of Jesus Christ which can be accessed by the clicking the title in this section.

Salvation of Mankind

Salvation of mankind This occurs by way of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Theologians would later refer to this doctrine/theology as "Soteriology"

The Sin Condition of All Mankind

Theologians would later refer to this doctrine as Hamartiology

  1. It is the "bad news" which makes the Gospel such "good news"
  2. Adamic sin in all men Rom 3:23; Isa 53:6

Christ’s Atoning Death

Jn 19:30 “It is finished” all sufficient; Eph 2:8,9

  1. He made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to become sin for us, that we might be become the righteousness of God in Christ. - 2 Cor 5:21
  2. The lamb who takes away the sins of the world - John 1:29
  3. He is the propitiation of our sins - Romans 3:25
  4. One Faith: One Batism Into Christ – Eph 4:4, 5
    • “One body...One Lord, one faith...” Worldwide unity of Born Again believers across denominational, geo-political boundaries.
    • Not a pluralist belief - i.e. "one of many faiths" - John 14:6
    • Not a universalist belief - i.e. all men and women go to heaven no matter who or what they believe "Enter by the narrow gate"
    • Not an ecumenical belief - i.e. unity at the expense of truth, togetherness superseding sound doctrine "I do not come to bring unity but rather a sword"

He is Spirit
John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth
He is Triune in Nature
He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three persons co-equal within one Godhead (not three gods as in Mormonism or three "phases" or "modes" as in Oneness Pentecostalism or in the United Pentecostal Church)
The Father is God but He is neither The Son nor The Holy Spirit. The Son is God but is neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God but i neither the Father nor the Son.
He is Omniscient – All knowing
Father – Isa 44:7-8 “Did I not proclaim it? foretell it long ago?”
Son - Jn 2:24 ; I Cor 1:24 ; Col 2:3
Spirit - Psa 139:1-18 You know all things; my days before there was yet one of them Ezek 11:5 ; I Cor 2:10
He is Omnipresent – Present everywhere at once
Father – Jer 23:24 ; I Kgs 8:27
Son - Math 28:20 (v18 omnipotent)
Spirit - Psa 139:1-18 “If I descend to the depths THOU”7
He is Omnipotent – All powerful
Omnipotent = able to accomplish all things that can be accomplished w/power
Father - Job 42:2 “No purpose of yours can be withheld from You” Jer 32:17
Son – Math 28:18; I Cor 1:24 ; Col 1:16-18
Spirit - Luke 1:35-37

Common question around omnipotence: Can God make a rock so big even He can’t move it? answer God can do everything that power can do, power cannot accomplish the logically/mathmatically impossible How much power is required to make 2+2=6?
He is Fully Love (I Jn 4:8)
God is all-loving while at the same time being both fully righteous and fully just - Isa 45:21; Zeph 3:5; Acts 3:14

Some can embrace a god thats one or the other. While in truth, He is both simultaneously

Cults ask, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” RESPONSE: “How can a righteous/just God send anyone to heaven?” “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”; ‘Each one has gone astray’ RESPONSE: Their (the self-condemned) understanding of God’s character is warped. He honors man’s free will choice to be separate from Him as he TRULY is! The Bible speaks of this sort of person: Rom 1:28 “They did not think it worthwhile to retain the true knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind...”
He is Fully Just
God hates all that is wrong and loves what is right. He upholds the cause of truth and despises the lie - He is The One and Only Just Judge. He cannot tolerate evil and iniquity (sinful behaviour).
“For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.” — Isaiah 61:8, ESV
He is Eternal:
Isa 41:4; Rev 1:8 Alpha and the Omega; Deut 33:27 Without beginning or end: Mic 5:2 From everlasting; Heb 9:14 Eternal Spirit ITim 1:17; Gen 21:33; Psa 93:2
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Creeds & Councils of Christianity

This set of beliefs were all founded upon and located in the inspired word of God – the Scriptures. They were as-yet uncodified into a standalone written “creed” or “confession” aside from Scripture but were passed down from the Apostles to the early church patriarchs either by word or by written epistle. After a number of heresies arose, the early Christian church decided to gather together at specific councils to officially codify the already-established Christian doctrine passed on from the 12 Apostles. I’ve included a few words about the the Creeds that were assembled as a result of a couple of the major councils:

The Nicene Creed, The Apostles Creed

    1. The creeds are a codification of belief not the ‘invention’ of it as many cults claim
      1. Greeks (Antioch) Had trouble with Christ’s humanity i.e born of a virgin and resurrected in the flesh. (Which is what may have led to the Gnostic heresy)
      2. Semitc origins (Alexandria) Had trouble with Christ’s Deity i.e. One in being with The Father and God from God without beginning (to address the Arian heresy)
    2. The codifcation was arrived at over the course of 3-4 centuries9
      1. Apostle’s Creed (Roman Creed) 2nd century against gnosticism affirmed Christ’s humanity to the Greeks
      2. Council of Nicaea 325 A. D. Called and Presided over by Constantine. Defended Christ’s Deity against Arian heresy. The Nicene Creed emerged as a result of this council
    3. Council of Constantinople – 381 A.D. called to affirm the singular person of Christ in both Deity and Humanity (Theanthropos)

Christian Denominations

The following “family tree” timeline is based on historic schisms and/or splits due to theological disagreements, reformation, or geo-political relocation.

It is important to note up front that the denominational families listed on the timeline below represent what some refer to as the “visible” church which is defined by ecclesiology of tradition, architecture, culture, sight, sound, experience etc. – this is not necessarily the “true” church from a Biblical perspective. The true church is comprised of those who have actually cried out to God for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:21 & Romans 10:13) and have trusted His Son Jesus as the one-and-only Saviour of their sins (John 14:6; 5:24) – these can come from any of the denominations listed below as church/denomination membership has nothing to do with being a Bible-based believer i.e. part of the church of Jesus Christ. – this is not rank ecumenicalism but rather a declaration that salvation has nothing to do with the fragmented visible “church” you see below.

There are seven major families of denominations which comprise the visible/earthly organizational Christian “church”: Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Four Protestant Families. I have represented these families in the timeline below. Click the “read more” buttons on each family entry to open a page with information about that denominational family.

Family #1: Oriental Orthodox

Not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox denominations - the Oriental Orthodox churches broke off in the earliest of schisms in Church history. Some were Nestorians, others were "monophysites"...

Read More<b>451 A.D.

Family #2: Eastern Orthodox

The Eastern church had already begun to operate independently of Rome (Western Church). The final spark occurred with the addition of the filioque (from the Son) to the Nicene creed which led to the "Great Schism" of 1054 AD...

Read More<b>1054 A.D.

Family #3: Protestant-Pre-Reformers

These are the groups of believers which broke from Roman Catholic oppression prior to Luther's German Reforms: Waldensians and Moravians/Unity of the Brethren (Hussites)

Read More<b>1182-1415

Family #4: Protestant - Lutheran

Started by Martin Luther and although some Lutheran pastors have left to join or start other movements, Lutherans have tended to produce other varieties of Lutherans but there have been no other significant denominations that broke from the Lutheran tradition and subsequently trace their roots to Luther.

Read More<b>1514 AD

Family #5: Protestant - Anglican

Began as a British-Romano church mentioned as early as the third century. Then coalesced into the Western (not yet 'Roman Catholic) Church at the Synod of Whitby in 664 - effectively Roman Catholic until 1531 when state issues, not doctrinal issues, caused King Henry VIII to "secede" from Roman Papal authority, declaring himself as "Head of Church and State". Eventually, reformers like Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and later the Puritans would bring about more of a reformed distinction from Roman Catholicism for this branch of the visible Christian church. Most denominations trace their roots to this branch: Episcopalean, Baptists (separatists), Methodists, Pentecostals, etc

Read MoreNov 09, 2017

Familty #6: Protestant - Swiss Reformers

Begun primarily by Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, the Swiss Reformation resulted in a large number of denominations considering the Swiss Reformation (Reformed Church) as their historical foundation: Presbyterians, Amish, Evangelical Free, and Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Read MoreNov 09, 2017

Authoritatitve Writings for Christianity

The Bible

Writing started 1450 B.C. with Moses was completed 95 A.D. with the Apostle John

Old Testament

Jewish canon: The Law, The Prophets and the The Writings in Jerome's order:

  1. Penteteuch (the Law)
  2. Historical Writings
  3. Poetic Books
  4. Major Prophets
  5. Minor Prophets

New Testament

A fulfillment of the Old Testament which was incomplete:

  1. Four Gospels (Historical): Matthew Mark Luke John and Acts of the Apostles
  2. Pauline Epistles: General and Pastoral
  3. General Epistles: Hebrews, James, I II Peter, Jude, I II III John
  4. Prophetic: The Revelation of The Christ

Christianity and the Afterlife

Christianity began with a Scriptural understanding of the afterlife: Mankind is fallen, sinful and at enmity with God. Therefore, when a person dies they are eternally separated from God who is the source of any and all things “good and enjoyable”. However, if that person during their lifetime, puts their faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of their sins, they do not go into separation from God (Hell) but rather, when they die they are instantly present with the Lord in a perfected state of joy, peace and gladness (Heaven).

Jesus said, “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me, HAS eternal life and shall not come into judgement but has passed from death (separation) to life (heaven).” – John 5:24.

Roman Catholic Years of Aberration

By blues_brother - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=783833

During this time, the Roman Catholic Church began to drastically move away from the sufficiency of Scripture and instead began to teach that Church tradition and the word of the Pope were equal to or greater than the Word of God in authority. This view is still held by Roman Catholics today nearly a thousand years later.

This aberration would begin to crumble as Peter Waldo of the Waldensians, John Wycliffe and the Lollards, John Hus of the Unity of the Brethren and Martin Luther would begin to tirelessly call for a return to the Scriptures and would decry the abhorrent “traditions” which had replaced it and the Gospel.

Unfortunately, with the rise of Roman Catholicism during the low middle ages, this Biblical Gospel was exchanged for a false gospel whereby the Roman Catholic church began to preach that salvation is possible only by faith plus a requisite amount of works. They also introduced a new concept called “purgatory” whereby you go into a “mini Hell” to burn off those sins that you committed after being baptized at birth. Conveniently, this tradition of purgatory could be lessened by none other than the Pope himself if you were generous enough to give money into the Catholic collection bucket. This process was known as the “selling of indulgences”.

By Tartessos75 - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3377345

Reformation Return to Scriptural Afterlife

Holding to the inerrancy of the scriptures, Luther challenged the erroneous Roman Catholic salvific view of ‘faith + works’ and challenged the Roman Catholic dependence on “Church tradition”. He cited multiple scripture references to that communicate that the ‘just shall live by faith’ and not “faith plus works”.

  • Romans 1:17 – “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

  • Galatians 3:11 – “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”

  • Hebrews 10:38 – “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.”

The Biblical Gospel proclaims that God saw this rebellious condition of mankind, His creation, and saw that the only remedy for this condition was an eternal payment of death (separation from the God of life) which satisfied His just, righteous and holy nature. His love for His creation was so great, that he sent His Eternal Son to pay this eternal payment of death. Thereafter, all who would consciously put their faith in Him (Jesus) and his eternal death payment on the cross as payment for their own sins, would receive life everlasting, heaven after death and permanent relationship as sons and daughters to the Father here on earth.

Luther asserted that no fair amount of works could ‘earn’ favor with God Almighty and therefore, according to the Bible, one is saved by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8,9). This Biblical view of the Gospel which is ultimately a view of the afterlife, involves a conscious recognition of equality with all human beings: if one is imperfect and in need of perfection to spend eternity with God, then ALL are imperfect and in need of perfection to spend eternity with God. One is not better than another and therefore, of no need for a Savior. This view refers to sin by its original definition of ‘missing the mark’ and believes that all men have areas of ‘missing the mark’ in things they have done and have failed to do. These areas are referred to by the bible as ‘rebellion’ and as such, will have no place with a perfectly good and loving God. Not now, and especially not in eternity.

Those that receive Jesus, receive a new life now and an afterlife of heaven after they die. This view holds that those that refuse this costly gift that God gave, will simply continue in the condition of rebellion that all men exist in outside of Jesus payment on the cross. If the refuser remains in this state at the point of death, then that person is given their wish for eternity: separation from a God that gave Himself for their sins (Hell=separation from all this good).

What Happens When Catholics Die?

          • If I am a Roman Catholic, I would join the Catholic church based on grace and then somehow hope to accumulate enough ‘works’ to make it into a burning fire of a pre-heaven purgatory to burn off those extra sins I committed after baptism.
          • Or, maybe I could accumulate enough works and merit of the church and saints to escape the pre-heaven flames and swing right through to heaven.
          • Alternatively, I might just join the Catholic church and receive Jesus’ forgiveness but fail to do any good deeds because perhaps this all happened last minute or I was an invalid etc. Now, because I have no ‘works’ to accompany God’s grace, I am still condemned to separation from God.

A Final Analysis of the Catholic idea of Afterlife

All three views are the imaginations of men and have no validity in Scripture.

  • The dilemma or the Roman Catholic is, I can never know if I'm saved until the gate slams shut behind me which is a commonality between all man-made faith structures that involve heaven by works.
  • One can never know what will happen when they die until after they die.
  • Grace plus anything else, is not grace at all. How can we have 'unmerited favor' from God that is nullified by our supposed 'merits' of good deeds or failure of 'merit'?
  • This is the conclusion that Martin Luther came to and which sparked the Reformation.

What Happens When Christians Die?

          • If I am a Bible-believing Christian, I would recognize that I am no different from everyone else in the world in that I ‘miss the mark'(sin) in many ways.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” – Romans 1:18-19

          • If the Bible is correct then I cannot expect to receive heaven (presence with The God of Perfect Good) for eternity as I have sinned against Him (the Eternal One) every day of my life and each sin requires an eternal payment which I cannot provide.

          • If I then want to receive heaven after I die, then I must be willing to humble myself, confess my life of sin and rebellion toward him

          • Ask Jesus, God Almighty, and Son of God the Father Almighty to forgive me of my sins

          • Ask for His mercy to apply his eternal payment for all mens sins to MY sins and to wash me of my sins and be my Lord and Savior

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. – John 6:37

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12

          • This results in a perfect peace which surpasses understanding, knowing full well that I will receive heaven after I die and sonship from the Father here and now!

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:17

“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” – Galatians 3:11

“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” – Hebrews 10:38

    1. This is the root organization from which all of the denominations, listed below, had emerged.
    1. The earliest Christian church was established by Jesus Christ and richly developed by His disciples and especially the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys.
    1. It began as a Jewish sect and its members were referred to as “Followers of The Way”. Which was based primarily on Jesus’ own words in John 14:6 “I AM the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me.”
    1. In the book of Acts, the Bible reports that these “Followers” were called “Christians” for the first time in Antioch. It was a derisive term which meant “little Christs”. The name given in derision was a perfect fit for what true Christianity represented: being a smaller version i.e. representative or imitator of Christ, so the name was a hit among Christians and it stuck.
    1. As with all sects that grow in size, worldwide presence, and widely differing and independent doctrine from the “Mother” faith, Christianity ceased to be considered a Jewish sect (mostly by the declarations of the Jews to the Roman authorities in an effort to remove “legal protection” of the Christians).
        1. This fledgling “Christ-ian” sect soon emerged as a world religion in its own right.
        1. Incidentally, similar paths from “sect” to “world religion” took place among the Buddhists, Jainists, Sikhs, and Bahai faiths but none of these grew and spread with such vigor as the Christian faith, primarily because its message of a loving God forgiving, adopting, and cleansing sinful man apart from religious works of that sinful man was as revolutionary then as it is today.
        1. However, today the message tends to fall on deaf ears often times because of the hardness of people’s hearts to the idea that we are all born with the fatal sin sickness.
        1. Contrary to popular belief, Christians hold that the “true” church is not a building, nor does it necessarily pertain to a specific group of attendees, but is comprised of those who have trusted in Jesus of the Bible for the forgiveness of their sins and subsequently look to Him as the author and giver of life and life eternal.
    2. Quick Facts About the Christian Church
      1. Matthew 16:18-19 – Jesus says, “And upon this rock I build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”
        1. Jesus reference to “this” rock – is Peter’s testimony “You are The Son of God” and Jesus is not referring to building the church on Peter the man
        1. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it – This means that the idea presented by Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Russell and Rutherford of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc that the “true” church was lost is false as that would suggest that the gates of hell did indeed prevail against the church which we were promised would never happen/li>
        2. Jesus mentions that to the Apostles he gives the “Keys to the kingdom” and although “keys” represents elements necessary to gain ‘entry’, it is clear that Jesus speaks of true faith in Himself as Messiah and Savior of mankind’s sins are the “keys” to entry.
        1. Peter knew that Jesus wasn’t talking about him (Peter) as a “rock” and Jesus definitely wasn’t speaking of Peter as the supposed “first Pope” of the church, this was all made up hundreds and hundreds of years later by Roman Catholic Popes to assert their authority in Rome over the rest of the church.
        1. Rather Jesus was talking about Himself – the One that Peter had just declared. This is evident when Peter declares in his own epistle 1Peter 2:4-8 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected,This became the very corner stone,” 8 and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” – Peter didn’t declare himself the Rock but Jesus as the Rock and Jesus’ followers as “living stones being built up”.
      1. Essentials vs Non-essentials – From Heresy to Apostasy
          1. Essentials – Affects Justification , Sanctification & Glorification
            1. Proper Theology – Who God is, properties, Triunity
            1. Christology – Who Christ is (Deity/Humanity of Jesus), Incarnation, Work, Glorification
            1. Person of the Holy Spirit
            1. Christ’s Virgin Birth
            1. Human Depravity: Nature of Man
            1. Jesus’ Bodily Resurrection
            1. Salvation: Grace alone, faith alone in Christ alone
            1. Christ’s Sinlessness
            1. Christ’s Atonement
            1. Christ’s 2nd coming; final judgement
            1. Soteriology – doctrine of salvation – by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone
        1. Non-Essentials – Affects Ecclesiology (church life), Eschatology (view of future), Pneumatology (view of the Holy Spirit)
            1. Transubstantiation – Some Lutherans still hold to a form of this which has been called “con-substantiation”.
            1. Eternal Security of the Believer
            1. Water Baptism – methods, age of baptised, necessity vs non-necessity views, etc
            1. Eschatological elements – Rapture, Millennialism, Amillennialism, Post-millennialism
            1. Gifts of the Spirit – Have they ceased, not-ceased, if not ceased then how are they to be used or not used
          1. Soteriological applications of faith, grace – Calvinism (Predestination, God’s Sovereignty) vs. Arminianism (free will, compatibilism) vs. Molinism (counterfactuals, compatibilism, best possible world)
    1. Properties of The Early Church
        1. Decentralized – no one had ever mentioned nor even heard of such a thing as “Papal Authority” which wouldn’t come along until many centuries later when introduced by the Roman Catholic departure from the Bible-believing Christian Church.
        1. Loosely organized – it was more metropolitan without a hierarchy of authoritarian Bishops and Archbishops. There was “The Church at Philipi” or “The Church at Corinth” or “The Church at Rome”. It became more heavily organised in the 4th century when the practice of Christianity was made legal by the Edict of Milan and by Constantine’s involvement and intermixing of church and state affairs.
        1. Participant Driven – Scriptural Records Of The Early Christian Church
          1. The Christian assembly usually met in private homes for worship and instruction(Acts 2:46; 16:40; 18:7; Philem. 1:2)
          1. in commemoration of the resurrection, the congregation assembled on the “Lord’s Day,” the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2)
          1. New Testament suggests that Christian worship incorporated singing of hymns and psalms (Eph. 5:19), prayer (1 Cor. 11:4-5), vocal thanksgiving (Eph. 5:20; Heb. 13:15), and instruction (1 Cor. 14:26; Col. 3:16).
        1. Historical Records Of The Early Christian Church
          1. Justin Martyr (c.151 AD) ANF: Vol. I, First Apology of Justin, Chapter 67
            1. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place (Renders the claims by Seventh Day Adventists that “Saturday” is the proper day of worship, a bit untenable)
            1. The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits
            1. When the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things
            1. Then we all rise together and pray
            1. When our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen
            1. There is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.
            1. They who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need
          1. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples.
    2. Development of Centralization
      1. Constantine and the Edict of Milan – Declared ALL religions legal to practice • Contrary to common misnomer – this did NOT declare Christianity to be the official “state” religion of Rome. That would not happen until the Emperor Theodosius’ decree several years later
      1. 7 ecumenical councils and notable heresies addressed – First 4 councils provided doctrinal clarity the next 3 councils were used politically to establish the preeminence of the Roman leaders as rulers over the visible church – none of the councils actually solved any problems. After the third and fourth council, many churches left the visible Romanizing church and were (and still are) considered “schismatic” by the Roman Catholic church along with all Protestant churches today.
        1. Nicaea – called by Constantine in 325 A.D. – 318 Bishops gathered
          1. Condemned Arianism – Christ-a created being and therefore subordinate
          1. Affirmed Consubstantiality of Christ with the Father (Deity of Jesus)
          1. Codification of Common Orthodoxy of Christian Faith in the Nicene Creed
          1. Declaration of the official observance of Easter on Sunday
        1. Constantinople – called by Theodosius I – 381A.D. – 186 Bishops gathered
          1. Condemned Apollonarius who claimed that Jesus had a “divine” and not “human” spirit. – removing Christ’s humanity.
          1. Affirmed consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son and that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father” and is not subordinate
          1. Upheld the “rulings and affirmations” of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed
          1. Confirmed that the city of Constantinople is the 2nd See behind the See of Rome
          1. Affirmed that Christ is both fully human as well as fully divine
        1. Ephesus – called by Theodosius II (son)- 431 A.D. – over 200 Bishops (a shrinking number) gathered
          1. Mary given position of Theotokos (Mother of God) as a “back door covering” to affirm Jesus Deity. This strange affirmation had many detractors at the time as it was properly supposed that this odd doctrine might lead to Mary worship. In fact, it did lead to Roman Catholics “venerating” Mary to a level of sub-deity, even referring to her as the “Queen of Heaven”, praying to her, and bowing and kissing statues of her.
          1. Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople was underhandedly condemned by Cyril of Alexandria in a political move where Nestorius was not present to defend himself or his views
              1. Nestorius denied Jesus’ divine nature was truly unified with his humanity but that they were a sort of “mesh” (no one at the time really knew what position to take on how Jesus was both fully man and fully God)
              1. Nestorius, to the disdain of the Roman delegates, claimed that Mary gave birth to the “humanity” of Jesus only but not to His Divinity which Nestorius said was of God alone – he rightly denied the ridiculous and blasphemous theotokos doctrine being pushed on Bishops at this council.
            1. This council and its obvious politicising of the visible church organisation on earth (not the true Biblical church of genuine believers in Jesus death and resurrection) caused Nestorian followers to break away and join an earlier schism of the Assyrian Church of the East which held the same views as the Nestorians and this church still barely exists today – near Baghdad – but is on the verge of extinction due to Muslim oppression and violent persecution.
          2. Upheld as orthodox that Jesus possessed 2 natures in 1 person which are “blended” in perfect unity of one person – theanthropos
        1. Chalcedon – Called by Emperor Marcion & Leo I, Bishop of Rome 451 AD – 600 Bishops – beginning to have a Roman majority among them
          1. Condemned the monophysitism of Eutyches which asserted Christ had one ‘fused’ nature, previously condemned for teaching Jesus had ‘one’ nature
          1. 28th Canon declared Constantinople as an equal See to Rome – which overturned the statement of the 2nd Council at Constantinople 70 years earlier which relegated Constantinople to a secondary See to Rome.
          1. Reversed a decision which proclaimed Constantinople on an equal level of authority as Rome, ecclesiastically
          1. Leo, Bishop of Rome, declared his own See of Rome and his successors there as the primary See and being in a supposed direct Petrine line of papal primacy. The term “Pope” was possibly first used for Leo at or around this time. There was never a “Pope” in Rome before this time, just “Bishops” of Rome. Peter was an Apostle and never a Bishop in the organisational hierarchical sense of Roman Catholic Bishops.
          1. Further defined, clarified, and confirmed Christ as 1 person in 2 natures
          1. Codified canon law for discipline and organizational methods – this was a major step for what remained of the visible church at this time in becoming a machine of earthly influence and structure. Again, this is just the “visible” church and not the actual Bible-based church of Christ-forgiven believers and followers.
          1. Most adherents to Scripture left what was clearly becoming an earthly “Roman” institution at the conclusion of this 4th Council.
        1. Constantinople II – Called by Eastern Emperor Justinian I – 553 AD
          1. Condemned – Theodore of Mopsuestia for his Nestorian teaching
          1. Monothelitism entertained – Jesus had two natures and one divine will
          1. Further condemned Monophysitism which claimed that Jesus had just 1 nature which was divine and not two – man and divine.
        1. Constantinople III – Called by Constantine IV – 680 AD – over 200 Bishops
          1. Called in response to a rise in Islam throughout middle eastern and Biblical lands.
          1. Monothelitism now condemned by “Pope” Leo II who claimed it would diminish Christ’s humanity (how can He be tempted as we are if his will is divine? this, he believed, violates Scripture)
          1. Diothelitism is officially affirmed which states that Jesus had 2 natures and 2 wills yet in perfect unity
        1. Nicaea II – 787 AD (Media – Paul Icon; 12th century Icon)
          1. Iconoclast Controversy- (icon – image; clast – destroy) Use of Christian “art” or images – statuettes, the cross, etc had been used as teaching tools to a largely illiterate people for 700 years prior. But such artwork was never venerated or revered.
            1. To demonstrate how far the earthly organisation/ fledgling Roman Catholic church had fallen – pictures of Jesus were considered ”unlawful” by Eusebius, the first Church Historian, 400 years earlier.
            1. Some began “kissing”, revering, or bowing down to these icons – which they still do to this day in many regions where Roman Catholicism is practiced.
            1. The western church claimed they were just giving reverence to what/whom the icons stood for. Pagans saw this as an identical worship practice as their own and struggled to convert.
            1. In the East – Muslims accused Christians of idolatry due to icons
            1. Emperor Leo III and Eastern Bishops looked to destroy icons and in 730 ordered all images removed from Christian churches.
            1. John, Bishop of Damascus, stated that God is in the icons as much as Christ is in the Lord’s supper. -This led to his removal as Bishop by Emperor Leo III
            1. This controversy would continue for another 300 years and was largely an “Eastern” church issue as the majority of Eastern Churches supported the use of icons – Popes Gregory I and II opposed the Byzantine Emperor & issued anathemas against the icons as a measure of ruling against the Eastern Emperor
        1. No More “Church” Councils – A large number of Protestants consider the first 7 councils to be the only ones that addressed matters of Biblical importance and thereafter became a political power gathering by Roman leaders – These councils would continue by the Catholics all the way up to the 1960’s with the Vatican II council being the most recent one but they ceased to be a collection of the representatives of the churches founded by the Apostles and the early church Fathers.
      1. 4 stages of Organization– Phillip Schaff vol. 2 – organization and discipline of the early church
        1. The apostolic organization of the first century
        1. The old Catholic (worldwide) episcopal system
        1. Metropolitan Church System
        1. Patriarchal Church System
          1. Here the Greek church stopped, and is governed to this day by a hierarchical oligarchy of patriarchs equal in rank and jurisdiction
        1. Thereafter the splintered visible earthly organisation calling itself the “church” moved into a Latin Monarchial organisational structure with the following distinctive:
          1. The distinction of clergy and laity (unbiblical)
          1. The sacerdotal view of the ministry becomes prominent and fixed (sacerdotalism is unbiblical)
          1. Subordinate church offices are multiplied (unbiblical)
          1. The episcopate arises
          1. The beginnings of the Roman primacy appear (unbiblical)
        1. The exclusive unity of the Catholic church develops itself in opposition to (so called) heretics and schismatics (anyone that disagrees with the self-imposed authority of the papacy of Rome) (unbiblical)

Although Christianity has a couple thousand different denominations – they are primarily reliant on the Bible as THE sacred text for spiritual authority (c.f. ‘sola Scriptura’ of the Reformation) one major exception to this doctrine would be Roman Catholicism which relegates the Bible to third in authoritative prominence behind the infallible word of the Pope and subsequent Catholic councils such as Vatican I held in 1870 and Vatican II held in 1965.

Of the Christians who adhere to the doctrine of “sola Scriptura” there seems to be a growing divide between those that hold the Byzantine Manuscripts (Majority Texts, Latin Vulagte, Textus Receptus, Codex Alexandrinus (Gospels) to be of a more “trustworthy” authority and those that hold that the older Alexandrian Manuscripts (Minority Texts, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus (Except Gospels), are more “trustworthy” and therefore more authoritative.

Proponents of Byzantine Manuscripts hold that because there are “more” they are more trustworthy and further state that antiquity does not equate, necessarily, to a more correct rendering of the original text.

Proponents of Alexandrian Manuscripts (Daniel Wallace, James White, etc) might argue that the errors introduced by the Roman Catholic Church into the hand-copy process have resulted in errors of “co-mmission” whereby additional text has been added by the copyists through the years to, perhaps, favour the Roman Catholic theological disposition. (c.f. John Calvin’s assertion – held by Reformed Tradition today).

This results in delineation of English Bible translations along loyalties to Text-types, and, dare I say, to profitability. For the Byzantine text-types the English translation of choice is the King James Version, and the New King James to a much lesser extent. For the Alexandrian text-types the English translation of choice is currently the NIV for paraphrase and the NASB for literal. The ESV is making a run for the NIV “market” for paraphrase versions as well.

The Acrostic CHAMP can quickly summarise a common apologetic for the reliability of the Bible as Christians are called to be “champions” of the faith and of God’s Word. (Jude 3)

    1. C – Consistency
      1. Internally – Although written by over 40 authors in three languages on three continents over 1500 years, the Bible is consistent internally with itself and contains no contradictions but reads harmoniously as one book.
      1. Externally – It is consistent externally with science (i.e. true scientific findings and not those that are skewed by atheistic bias): Physics, Geology, Anthropology, Archaeology, and even consistent with Medical Science
    1. H – Historicity
      1. Historically Accurate – Civilisations, locations, military excursions, monetary units all found in the Bible – are confirmed to have existed and have thus rendered the Bible as an historically accurate report of events that have taken place
      1. Historical Survivability – Despite 3000 years with a history of persecution, suppression, corruption or outright obliteration at the hands of Near Eastern empires, the Roman Empire, Heretical Groups, the Roman Catholic church, and atheist governments and critics, the Bible has remarkably survived and remains the number 1 best selling book in human history.
    1. A – Archaeological Dependability
      1. 25,000 sites associated with the OT period have been located/excavated in Bible lands. They appear as mounds of earth known as ‘Tels’.
      1. Kings names in hinge sockets, sepulchres etc are ways archaeologists set time periods
      1. The flood – lists of kings from Sumerian scribes (200BC) cataloguing kings and their successive dynasties, times, and tenure showed that an inscribed stone foundation was laid by an unknown kin a few miles from Ur. This list categorizes his dynasty as the ‘3rd after the flood’ 3100 years BC and 1000 years before Abraham.
      1. Abram, Ur of the Chaldees – Critics claimed that Ur did not exist (they hadn’t found it) and that the culture was unrealistic for someone from this area.
        1. UNTIL: 1933 when a palace of Mari was found and 20,000 cuneiform tablets dated at about 2500 BC (same as Abram)
        1. A few miles away, city of Nuzi, more tablets found describing life exactly as Abraham’s
      1. Pentateuch – critics claimed the books could not have been written by Moses because the priestly legislation was far too complex for the time and that writing itself would not have been available to Moses.
        1. UNTIL: 1964-74 when the 17000 ‘Ebla’ tablets were found in N. Syria dated appx. 2250 BC – nearly 1000 years before Moses, laws, customs, and events were recorded verifying the ability to write and have complex legislation
        1. Critics also claimed that the account in Gen 14 of Abraham’s victory over the Chedolaomer
          and Mesopotamian kings was fictitious and that the 5 cities mentioned never existed.
        1. UNTIL: the above ‘Ebla’ tablets which record the cities in the exact order as in Gen. and describe them as flourishing prior to the disaster in ch14.
      1. Many others: Walls of Jericho, evidence of ‘one language’ of Babel, etc.
      1. Luke’s census – NT critics of Luke say he was wrong in that no census was taken, Quirinius was not governor, and no one had to return to their homeland.
        1. UNTIL: archaeological discoveries revealed the existence of a Roman census that took place every 14 yrs and began under Augustus in 23BC or 9BC (mentioned in Luke)
        1. A plaque in N. Syria with the inscription of Quirinius receiving his post (an ‘additional term’ as Josephus reported)
        1. A papyrus was found from this time period which instructed people to ‘return to their governments and the tilled land to which they belonged’
        1. Coins found show the existence of Felix at the time of the apostle Paul, pool of Siloam, pool of Bethesda.
    1. M – Manuscript Reliability
      1. New Testament – 24,633 manuscripts for the NT alone dating back to late 1st century
        1. Oldest is John Rylands fragment of John (AD130)
        1. Codex Vaticanus 325 A.D. Most of entire bible – can be viewed today for 20 minutes
        1. Codex Sinaiticus 350 A.D. almost all NT; half OT
          1. Discovered by Dr. Constantin Von Tischendorf at Mt. Sinai monastery in 1859
          1. Tischy travelled the near east in 1844 in search of biblical mss. He visited St. Catherines monastery and saw 2 baskets of leaves ready to stoke the fire. The leaves had ancient uncials written on them. He sternly warned the monks that the leaves were too precious to stoke fires with and they permitted him to keep the 43 leaves he had recovered (I Chron, Jer, Neh, Ezra) He deposited them in the museum at Leipzig
          1. Tischy returned at a later date amid suspicion from these monks. He offered the steward of the monastery a copy of his personally published Septuagint. The steward remarked, “I too have a copy of the septuagint” and revealed this, the oldest near-complete codex Sinaiticus
        1. Codex Alexandrinus 400 A.D. – nearly the whole bible. written in Greek while in Egypt
      1. Old Testament
        1. Mainly use Masoretic text (900 A.D.) but is verified by Septuagint (LXX) and by the Dead Sea Scrolls (90 A.D.) and other available mss.
          1. LXX (3rd cent. BC) – Hellenistic translation of the Hebrew Canon
          1. Dead Sea Scrolls – (D.S.S.) A.D. 68 found in Qumran caves near Jerusalem by a
            shepherd boy chasing a goat.
          1. Masoretic text – A.D. 916
          1. Transcribing process – they would count every letter from front to point of writing would count every letter of every book, a hairline separation between letters. If the king addresses you while transcribing, ignore him. Not one yod is to be off. Fully bathe and dress in Jewish dress, special ink black only –per the Talmud
    1. P – Prophetic Validation
      1. Jesus 61 major prophecies, 8 of which include:
        1. Born at Bethlehem Mic 5:2 fulfilled Lk 2:4-7
        1. Preceeded by a messenger Isa 40:3 fulfilled Math 3:1,2
        1. Would enter Jerusalem by Donkey Zec 9:9 fulfilled Luke 19:35-37
        1. Betrayed by friend Psa 41:9 fulfilled Math 26
        1. Sold for 30 peices silver: Zec 11:12 fulfilled Math 26:15
        1. Dumb (silent) before accusers: Isa 53:7 fulfilled Math 27:12
        1. Hands and Feet Pierced: Psa 22:16 fulfilled Luke 23:33
        1. Crucified with thieves: Isa 53:12 fulfilled Math 27:38
      1. Destruction of Tyre (New York City of its day) Eze 26:3-21 predicts the following
        1. v8. “Nebuchadnezzar to come against mainland Tyre” which was fulfilled 3 years after prophecy.
            1. A 13 yr siege resulted in Tyre submitting to Babylon suzerainty.

           

            1. When Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar finally broke the gates of Tyre down, he found a deserted city. They had escaped by ship to an island off the coast.

           

            1. Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t do anything to stop or pursue them as land-locked Babylon didn’t have a navy

           

            1. In a rage at their escape, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the vacated mainland city

           

            1. The people of Tyre settled on an island off the coast of Tyre where they remained a powerful fortified city for 200 years
        2. v3 “Throw the debris (of the city of Tyre) into the water” which was an odd thing for any army to do to a destroyed city but it was indeed fulfilled by Alexander the Great.
          1. Alexander, like Nebuchadnezzar, did not have a fighting navy
          1. He collected the rubble and debris left behind by the Babylonian destruction of mainland Tyre and threw it into the sea to build a causeway out to the island city of Tyre.
        1. v4 “Make her a bare rock; flat like the top of a rock”. Again this is an odd prediction by the Old Testament Prophet as most destroyed cities remain mounds of debris, dust, ashes, etc yet this ‘flat as a rock’ prophecy was fulfilled, yet again at the same time and by the same person as verse 3 – Alexander the Great.
          1. Alexander the Great’s causeway construction to reach the island-city of Tyre, left the original mainland city site bare and flat (which it is to this day)
        1. v3 “Many nations against Tyre” fulfilled: in 332 B.C. by Alexander the great who had recently failed to build a causeway due to attacks on his workers. He formed a coalition navy from other surrounding port cities (Sidon, Rhodes, Lycia) to sail against Tyre
        1. v5 “Fisherman will spread nets over the site” fulfilled: Fisherman today frequent the area to spread their nets to dry as it is an ideal location for this activity.
        1. v14 “Never to be rebuilt” ultimately fulfilled in 1291 by Muslim invaders.
          1. The city continued to be built and rebuilt long after Alexander and was occupied by the Eastern Roman Empire (Eastern Orthodox Church) for hundreds of years. when it was occupied by Christians.
          2. It was eventually utterly destroyed in 1291 AD by the Muslims
          3. It has remained desolate, unbuilt, and uninhabited to the present day.
          4. 10 million gallons of fresh water pour from this ‘port’ location into the sea every day yet miraculously, the Word of God remains fulfilled regarding the perpetual desolation of Tyre!
      1. v21 “Never to be found again” – The entire renown of Tyre now exists only in a shellfish and purple dye” – Pliny the elder (1st century A.D).

How To Interpret The Bible

From time to time, the erroneous assumption is made that the “Bible can be made to say anything you want it to say!”. This usually comes from a complete and utter ignorance of the universal truth that all words have meaning and words grouped together in a phrase or sentence have a central meaning and paragraphs and chapters grouped into books have some sort of meaning. But how do we get to that meaning? That is where hermeneutics comes in:

Hermeneutics, which is the “art and science of interpretation”, is the discipline to arrive at the exact meaning of a written passage whether it is sacred or secular. And it is this exact practice which enables the Bible-believing Christian to arrive at a “sound” interpretation and meaning of a given passage or book of the Bible and how it is to be applied to one’s life today.

I’ve listed seven hermeneutical principles below which I’ve found helpful when attempting to interpret Scripture or other ancient literature that I’ve read (Clement’s First Epistle, Augustine’s Confessions, etc). The principles below will help when applied to ANY literature or text and can then assist us in safely interpreting the original meaning of the original author of that text.

    1. Who is the audience of the original author? i.e who was he/she writing to?
    1. What was the intent of the original writing? why was he/she writing the piece in the first place?
    1. What is the context of the passage or chapter within the work itself? i.e. what is written in the pages before and after this passage?
    1. How does this passage or chapter fit within the rest of the written work? i.e. is it harmonious with the rest of the author’s intent?
    1. What cultural context should be taken into consideration? What culture was the author writing from or to? are there practices that are specific to that particular geo-political region, etc?
    1. How reliable is the copy that you read? i.e. how close is it to the original written work. Are there copyist errors to consider?
    1. What literary devices are being employed by the author: is it poetry? fictional narrative to teach a central theme? literal instruction? etc.

The following list is one I found from Joseph Whitchurch’s “Apologetics For The Heart and Mind”. I thought it was very good and definitely worthy of mention. He covers many of the principles I mentioned above but adds even more for clarification in a more specific Biblical interpretive sense.

Practical Biblical Interpretation in ten general rules – Joseph Whitchurch

 

    1. Interpret the Bible literally (from the words, not foolishly wooden), like any other book.
      Read everything in context.
    1. Apply yourself to the story/teaching, using empathy. Ask “Why does God do/say this?”
    1. Use passages of teaching to interpret historical accounts, but do not play “Paul vs. Jesus”.
    1. Use the explicit to interpret the implicit; use the clear to interpret the obscure.(my emphasis!)
    1. Determine definitions carefully. Note multiple possible definitions of one word. Do not always pour ultimate meaning into each word.
    1. Note parallelism. Use nearby parallel verses to interpret a difficult verse.
    1. Distinguish between proverb and law; distinguish between case law (if…then) and direct law (You shall…).
    1. Recognize both the spirit and the letter of the law.
    1. Be careful with parables—they often present time-specific analogies. Look for one central point.
    1. Be careful with predictive prophecy; look for explanations elsewhere. See also Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul

What Is the Difference Between The Bible and The Qur’an?

BIBLE
Monotheistic, Trinitarian, as referenced in Isa 43:10; 44:6-8; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14

Jesus is God incarnateColossians 2:9

Jesus was crucified on a cross1 Peter 2:24

Jesus rose from the deadJohn 2:19-20

Jesus was the only Son of GodMark 1:1

Holy Spirit, 3rd person in the Godhead. He will bear witness of JesusJohn 14:26; 15:26

Salvation by grace through faithEphesians 2:8,9

The Devil is a fallen angel
Isaiah 14:12-15; Created by Jesus – Col 1:15,16

Man is basically evil (fallen sinner)
Romans 3:23

Disciples were followers of Christ (Christians)Acts 11:26

Worship on SabbathExodus 20; Then later on SundayRom 14:5-6; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2

Miracles, numerous are recorded

Makes numerous prophecies

Written by 40+ authors over 1500 years – reads as one book

QUR’AN

Monotheistic as referenced in 5:73; 112:1-4, Denies the Trinity in 5:73

Jesus is not God5:17, 75

Jesus was not crucified at all – 4:157

Jesus did not rise from the deadvarious Muslim accounts

Jesus was not the Son of God but rather a “prophet” – 9:30 – only 1 of 25 prophets listed in the Qur’an and 1 of 125,000 in the history of Islam. God Has No Sons

The Holy Spirit is the angel Gabriel 2:97; 16:102

Salvation by sincerity and works3:135; 7-8-9; 21:47; 49:14; 66:8-9 also by dying for the cause of Allah Hadith, Sura 3:157

The Devil, Satan, is not a fallen angel, but a fallen Jinn (Genie) – 2:34; 7:12; 15:27; 55:15

Man is basically good – Typical cleric teaching (contradicts a buried passage in Sura 12:53 which agrees w/ the Bible

Disciples declare themselves Muslims5:111

Worship on Friday
62:9

No Miracles recorded, except they claim the Qur’an is a miracle

Makes no prophecies

Written by 1 man over 23 years

VIII. Abbreviated Bibliography
1 – Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
2 – NKJV (Transliteration) Bible
3 – NIV (Paraphrase) Bible
4 – A.W. Tozer, “Knowledge of the Holy”
5 – Dennis McCallum, “An Approach to Christian Apologetics” , Xenos Church publication
6 – Van Gorden, Kurt “Why Christians Believe the Trinity”, Jude 3 Missions publication
7 – KJV (Poetic/transliteration) Bible “are there” is implied…not in Textus Receptus
8 – Craig, William Lane “A Reasonable Faith”
9 – Shelley, Bruce “Church History in Plain Language”
10 – Edwards, Betty “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” pp.
11 – Lavey, Anton “Satanic Bible”
12 – Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary 2nd ed., 1983
13 – Cowan, Stephen B.. Ed. “5 Views on Apologetics”, 2000
14 – Geisler, Norman “Evolution Video Series”’
15 – Darwinismrefuted.com
16 – Cowan, Stephen B article review “5 Views on Apologetics, www.a180.net
17 – Drurie, Mark Phd. article “appendix: Historical Evidence for Jesus (Yeshua)”
18 – Haanagraff, Hendrik “Christianity In Crisis” Appendix
19 – Mcdowell, Josh “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”
20 – Whitchurch, Joseph B. Teaching material for AFTHAM (Apologetics For The HeartAnd Mind) 1995-97
21 – Concerned Christians, “Witness to Mormons” , 1983
22. – Utah Lighthouse Ministry, article www.ch-of-christ.beaverton.or.us/mormon_beginnings_3.htm